Hogwarts Legacy successfully appeals to long-time fans of the Harry Potter franchise. However, there is something here for everyone to enjoy, as the combat, exploration, and open world of the Harry Potter universe make for a stunning adventure.
Table Of Contents
Hogwarts Brought to Life
While reviewing Hogwarts Legacy, I would be remiss not to discuss first what the game clearly does best—transporting us from our dull and monotonous lives into the magical world of Hogwarts. Hogwarts Legacy does a flawless job of making the player feel as if they truly are a student attending Hogwarts, as nearly every nook and cranny of the castle is brimming with whimsical mysteries just begging to be explored.
Magic in the Details
The sheer attention given to the details of the Wizarding World in Hogwarts Legacy are mind-blowing. While exploring the castle, you’ll encounter everything from paintings that move and talk, suits of armor that salute you as you walk by, shifting staircases, books that rearrange themselves on shelves, ghosts causing mischief, and much more.
Additionally, it’s clear that numerous references to the Harry Potter books and movies have been included for the delightful nostalgia of fans of the franchise. For example, when you encounter a Hippogriff, you’ll go through the same process of bowing and becoming familiar as Harry did in The Prisoner of Azkaban. Similarly, you’ll encounter the screaming Mandrakes in Herbology and have to pot them just like Harry did in The Chamber of Secrets.
The references also do not end at scenes from the books and movies. The game’s soundtrack is perfect, fitting the whimsical adventure of the game, and this will be appreciated by all fans—old and new. But if you’re a dedicated Potter fan and you listen closely, many of the game’s tracks include riffs from the songs we’ve been adoring from the movies since we were young.
A World Full of Interaction and Activities
You will never feel like you’re wandering around Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, and the surrounding areas with nothing to do. In Hogwarts alone, you’ll encounter puzzle doors, statues that require spells to activate their secrets, puzzle mirrors, and numerous locked doors and chests that contain cool new items. There are also students and teachers all over the castle, ready to ask for your help in treasure hunts, collecting items, dueling, and more.
Activities aren’t restricted to the castle, of course. Spend time completing the Merlin Trials out in the wild to expand your inventory space, fight enemies and find new loot in the Forbidden Forest, or simply explore caves you come across during your travels. You can also collect ingredients and Beasts while you’re out exploring the world, which will allow you to return to Hogwarts to make potions to aid with combat or to tame and breed magical beasts.
To ensure that there’s something for everyone, the game also includes the task of retrieving all of the 150 hidden Field Guide pages for the collectors out there. Those who love to decorate and customize can spend their hours decorating the Room of Requirement, your personal workspace throughout the game.
Classes to Tie the Experience Together
To truly top off the full Hogwarts experience, you must attend numerous classes throughout the story. These classes include Defense Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Charms, Herbology, Flying, Divination, and Transfiguration. Classes are essential for unlocking new spells and learning how to do new activities such as planting or crafting potions. What makes the classes particularly great is that you won’t just be sitting there listening to a lecture, you’ll be performing activities as you learn. Classes ensure that you will find yourself fully immersed in the life of a student.
Surprisingly Engaging Combat
While the extraordinary atmosphere of the Wizarding World exceeds expectations, the challenging and entertaining combat is far more shocking. By the trailers, I wasn’t necessarily convinced that combat would be a primary facet of enjoyment in this game. Yet on the contrary, the variation of spells in your arsenal combined with how the enemy defenses are constructed make for an absolute blast and a real challenge.
There is no breezing through the combat by button-mashing one spell in Hogwarts Legacy. As you go through the game, you’ll unlock different types of spells, and the game will force you to use a variety of them in combat. Enemies will often have different colored shields, and you’ll need to use a spell of the corresponding type to break the shields before you can do damage. Additionally, you’ll need to stay alert, as you must frequently dodge or block, depending on the attacks coming at you.
The fact that you can have up to four sets of spells with four spells in each set takes some getting used to. You’ll need to remember which spells you put into which slots, and that’s arguably the most challenging part about combat in Hogwarts Legacy. Once you’ve adjusted to this and can switch between spells easily, you’ll have a blast taking down Poachers, Spiders, Trolls, and more.
If Only the Enemies Were as Refreshing as the Environment
While the combat is varied and exciting, the same can’t be said for the enemies in Hogwarts Legacy. Though the range of foes you encounter seems diverse enough at the start, you’ll quickly realize that you’re fighting Spiders, Poachers, and Guardians most of the time. The total list of enemies in the game extends far beyond these, but when you spend the majority of your time fighting the same enemies in between larger battles, it starts to feel a little stale.
A Plot Far Outshined by Exploration
It’s well established that exploration in Hogwarts Legacy is heavily encouraged with the game’s astonishing visuals and boundless activities, but the plot leaves much to be desired. In truth, the plot is only so glaringly mediocre because the rest of the game is exceptional. You start the game as a fifth-year transfer student, and the back story of that never really gets explained.
Otherwise, the story is a relatively cliché trope of “main character has special mysterious power that no one else has and must discover its secrets.” The secondary plot deals with a Goblin Rebellion and a group of evil wizards whose motivations aren’t revealed until further into the game. The story is interesting enough to hold one’s attention under normal circumstances, but it’s difficult to avoid feeling like you want to breeze through the story to get back to the good stuff.
Characters Who You’ll Actually Want to Befriend
Luckily, unlike the lackluster plot, the characters in Hogwarts Legacy are inviting, diverse, and interesting. Some of the main characters include Poppy Sweet, a sweet and caring Hufflepuff; Natasi Onai, a strong and justice-seeking Gryffindor; Amit Thakkar, an astronomy-loving Ravenclaw; and Sebastian Sallow, a mischievous and loyal Slytherin.
These characters, among many others, have interesting quirks, backstories, and personalities. Additionally, the diversity among the roster of characters was refreshing and made for a far more interesting cast.
Customize Your Way to the Ultimate Hogwarts Student Experience
Another of Hogwarts Legacy’s strongest points is its options for customization. You can customize your gameplay experience in numerous ways, including the customization of your character, your gear, your talents, and your room.
The game has been praised for its slew of character customization selections, including gender-neutral options, hair and eye color, facial structure, skin tone, and eyebrows. Specifically, the developers were praised for taking close care in making black hairstyles more realistic, earning the game’s character customization further praise.
That said, you’ll still run into some limitations. For example, those hoping to change your character’s body type are out of luck. Additionally, the facial expression of not only your character but others in the game leaves some detail to be desired. Emotions don’t quite come across as they should in certain scenes, as facial expressions tend to be a little gimmicky.
Throughout the game, you’ll pick up a wide variety of different gear, from scarves to robes to hats and more. Luckily, you’ll never be stuck looking like an oddball for wearing the gear with the best stats. The transmog option allows you to change your gear’s appearance or even make it invisible completely. This allows you to dress up your character however you’d like once you start collecting enough stuff.
Customizing the Room of Requirement
As you continue the main storyline, Professor Weasley will eventually show you the Room of Requirement. In short, this room will be your room to use for potion-making, beast-taming, identifying gear, planting, and upgrading your clothing. But in addition to all of this, you can decorate every inch of this room. You can add furniture, change the color and sizes of everything, customize the floors and walls, and change the ambiance of the room. This place will function as your personal safe haven throughout the game.
Customizing Your Abilities
It isn’t just aesthetic qualities that you can customize as you play. As you gain levels, you will acquire Talent Points, which you can use to give your character different Talents. For example, you can unlock more spell slots, strengthen your Unforgivable Curses, strengthen your ancient magic abilities, and more. You can’t get every upgrade, so you’ll need to decide and be strategic about your character’s strengths.
Generally, you can either be a polite, goody-two-shoes, or you can be a mischievous jerk. The dialogue options are only minimally impactful, and there isn’t a wide range of paths you can take with them. But you have a little room to make your character act how you feel they should. There are a few dialogue choices that will matter for gameplay, but generally, you won’t have to concern yourself with them much throughout.
It’s worth noting that there are other ways you can customize your Hogwarts Legacy experience. For example, you’ll be able to choose which house you’d like to join at the start of the game. Though the Sorting Hat will give you a recommendation, you can ultimately pick where you’d like to go. Additionally, you can become whatever type of witch or wizard you desire. If you want to go around hitting people with the killing curse, you can do so.
Sadly, though you can upgrade your broom, you cannot customize it to your liking. Perhaps we may see something like this with future DLC, seeing as how numerous players are already calling for the addition of the sorely missed wizarding sport, Quidditch.
A Lack of Morality System
Whether you’re a long-time fan or not, one of the strangest aspects of Hogwarts Legacy is the lack of consequences for your actions. Though it can be fun and humorous in ways to go about killing people completely unrestricted, it’s… bizarre. You’re a fifth-year student who can go around blasting people into oblivion, yet the most you’ll get as a consequence is a grumble or two from other characters who see you do it. It’s hard to feel like Hogwarts Legacy is a totally immersive experience when this aspect is so dramatically unrealistic.
Additionally, it was a little disappointing not to have a system that kept track of your house points. Usually, at the end of an academic year at Hogwarts, whichever house accrued the most points would win the house cup. This would have been an excellent trophy to include in the game. Perhaps if you were caught during a stealth quest, you’d be docked house points. Or maybe if you were caught being cruel to someone, you were docked house points and had to do an activity for detention. Answering questions or performing an activity correctly in class could have earned you points.
At the end of the day, the lack of a morality system draws away from the immersion.
An Easy-Going Adventure on PS5, Some Struggles for Those on PC
Depending on which platform you’re playing Hogwarts Legacy, you’re bound to have a different experience. Playing through the game on the PS5, I encountered very minimal issues. Sometimes a door would take a few moments to open rather than allowing my character to run straight through. Additionally, every once in a while, I encountered a small bug where someone didn’t appear right away when I entered a new location. However, nothing was game-breaking or hindering enough to distract from my adventure.
According to other writers at VGKAMI who played the game on PC however, there were a few more issues. For starters, there were problems with trying to launch the game from Steam initially. Once this was worked around, there were still some game-crashing bugs and FPS drops reported. However, those who are using optimal gaming PCs are running into less issues, as Hogwarts Legacy is on par with performance requirements for other AAA games. If your PC meets the performance requirements, you may still run into some issues, but it shouldn’t completely destroy your experience.
Author Conclusion: Not a Game You’ll Want to Miss
Though there are a handful of small issues in Hogwarts Legacy, the game ultimately delivers on creating a magical, whimsical experience for all players. Despite some performance and plot issues, the game is not only worth playing, but it’s worth the full price tag. If you’re looking for an adventure packed full of exciting combat, imaginative and mysterious places, and a customizable experience, this one is for you.